British prime minister Liz Truss has insisted the UK’s relationship with the US is still “special” as she seeks to forge closer ties with allies amid heightened threats around the world.
Ms Truss also urged allied nations to ignore Russian president Vladimir Putin’s “sabre-rattling” and continue to back Ukraine.
In a wide-ranging interview with CNN on Sunday, she vowed to foster even stronger relations with the US.
Ms Truss was asked about concerns in US president Joe Biden’s administration that she did not share the same belief in the special relationship as some of her predecessors in No 10, after she previously described it as “special but not exclusive”.
The prime minister said her first meeting with the US president on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York this week had been “great”.
She told CNN’s State Of The Union programme: “I do think our relationship is special and it’s increasingly important at a time when we’re facing threats from Russia, increased assertiveness from China.
“I’m determined that we make the special relationship even more special over the coming years.”
Ms Truss said the UK and US were “stepping up as an alliance” against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
She told allies not to fall for Mr Putin’s threats, after last week he warned his country would use “all the means at our disposal” to protect itself.
The Russian president also announced a partial military mobilisation as the Kremlin attempts to regain ground in the face of a counterattack by Ukraine’s forces.
Ms Truss said: “We should not be listening to his sabre-rattling and his bogus threats.
“Instead, what we need to do is continue to put sanctions on Russia and continue to support the Ukrainians because if Putin is allowed to succeed, this wouldn’t just send a terrible message in Europe and of course, huge threats to the Ukrainian population themselves, but it also would send a message to other authoritarian regimes around the world that it’s somehow acceptable to… invade a sovereign nation.
“So this is why it’s so important that we continue to be resolute, we don’t listen to the sabre-rattling that we’re hearing from Putin, and we continue to back the Ukrainians to the hilt.”
The prime minister said the world needed to “learn the lessons from Ukraine” as she vowed to work with allies to ensure Taiwan can defend itself against China.
But she refused to go as far as saying the UK would defend it militarily if Beijing invaded, as Mr Biden has promised.
Ms Truss’ goal of strengthening relations with allies comes amid tensions over threats by the UK to override parts of the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol.
Ms Truss sought to reassure Mr Biden, the US president with proud Irish heritage, that she was committed to upholding the peace process during their meeting.
Asked about their conversation, Ms Truss said: “President Biden and I both agree that what is vital is to protect the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.
“What’s important is that we protect and respect the positions of both the nationalist community in Northern Ireland, as well as the unionist community in Northern Ireland.
“So what I want to do is find a way forward and my preference is a negotiated solution with the EU that protects that north-south relationship, but also protects the east-west relationship, and that is absolutely core to the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.”
The UK government’s approach to post-Brexit talks has also caused tensions with France.
Ms Truss sparked a diplomatic row during the Tory leadership contest when she declined to give a clear answer when asked if French president Emmanuel Macron was a “friend or foe”.
While she declined to call Mr Macron a “friend”, Ms Truss told CNN she had a “very good meeting” with him in which they discussed shared values and areas of cooperation.
“I’m looking forward to working with him in the future,” she said.